Coping Assessment in Adolescents

By de Minzi, Maria Cristina Richaud | Adolescence, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Coping Assessment in Adolescents

de Minzi, Maria Cristina Richaud, Adolescence

Lazarus developed the Ways of Coping Checklist (WCC) in the 1970s. It was based on the transactional model of stress, which posited two types of coping: problem-focused and emotional regulation (Lazarus, 1991). This instrument has always had a drawback: the number of factors obtained changes from one sample to the next or from one stressor to another (Parker & Endler, 1992). This seems to be a common problem with the measurement of coping, however, and thus it underscores an unresolved issue: disposition versus situation. Researchers have been advised to adjust the WCC to the specific context of their study in order to attain maximum pairing between stress experiences and types of coping.

Coping with stress should be different at the various stages of life. During adolescence, boys and girls face several challenges, such as forming bonds with peers, differentiating themselves from their family, and moving on to an adult identity. Frydenberg and Lewis (1990) designed a coping questionnaire, the Adolescent Coping Scale, in order to identify coping strategies used to deal with stress during adolescence. It is based on the WCC, and it provides information on 18 strategies grouped into three basic coping styles: problem-solving, relations with others, and unproductive. Perena and Seisdedos produced a Spanish version of the scale in 1997.

In the present study, the Spanish version of the scale was administered. It proved to be extremely long; adolescents grew tired of it and became restless. In addition, the large number of dimensions made theoretical interpretation difficult. Further, the internal consistency of some of the dimensions was extremely low.

The aim of this work was to produce an abridged version of the scale, which would include items representative of the various factorial dimensions identified as stable. It was expected that the results would correspond to the dimensions proposed in the model by Billings and Moos (1981; Moos & Billings, 1982), who divided coping processes into three categories (assessment-focused, problem-focused, and emotions-focused), thus providing a valuable theoretical approach (Schwarzer & Schwarzer, 1995).



The Spanish version of the Adolescent Coping Scale (80 items) was administered to 800 males and females aged 13-15 years. They were from middle-class families and attended secondary schools in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. They rated each item on a scale ranging from 1 (it never happens to me) to 5 (it happens very often), with a sixth problem-irrelevant option (Waller, 1989; Ben Porath, Waller, & Butcher, 1991; Richaud de Minzi & Sacchi, 2001).

Statistical Analysis

Exploratory factor analyses were carried out following the principal axis method, oblimin rotation. The anti-image correlation matrix, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin adequacy sample measure (KMO), and Bartlett's test of sphericity had been calculated previously in order to assess the possibility of a factor analysis of items. Satisfactory results were obtained, since the matrix diagonal ranged between .63 and .93, with a mean of .83; other values indicating partial correlation were around 0. On the other hand, KMO was equal to .86 and the test of sphericity was equal to 14879.93, p = .000.


In accord with Frydenberg and Lewis, for the first factor analysis the cut criterion to determine the number of factors was set at 18. That notwithstanding, it was found that Factor 18 had an eigenvalue of .44, which was a sign of overfactoring. In addition, at least three factors proved obviously residual.

In view of these results, items showing greater weight in the most clearly defined factors were analyzed. At the same time, 14 items that did not have sufficient weight in any of the 18 factors were dropped. Lastly, 46 items were selected and factor analyzed, with an eigenvalue equal to 1 as the cut criterion to determine the number of factors. …

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